Centre’s policy to not vaccinate elders at home unreasonable and arbitrary: Bombay HC

The central government has been told to revisit its policy against door-to-door vaccination policy for elders

Centre’s policy to not vaccinate elders at home unreasonable
Representation Image | The Hindu

The Bombay High Court Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni has criticised the Centre for its policy for vaccination for the elderly, bed-ridden, and differently-abled citizens amid the pandemic.

The Centre has said that the door-to-door campaign is not feasible since following protocols for physical distancing and infection prevention and control might be difficult. Their policy also stated that vaccines could be wasted as door to door will take more time to reach each beneficiary.

The Centre’s policy explains, “The vaccine will be placed in and out of Vaccine Carrier, for each vaccination there by increasing chances of contamination and exposure beyond recommended temperature which could affect vaccine efficacy and cause Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) which will be detrimental to vaccine confidence and programme performance.”

The Bench took strong exception to this explanation by the Centre. It said, “vaccination of elderly citizens by adopting a door-to-door vaccination policy is being avoided because such elderly citizens are aged and suffer from comorbidities, we regretfully record that the elderly citizens are literally being asked to choose between the devil and the deep sea. A policy which leads to such a conclusion has to be viewed as arbitrary and unreasonable, for the elderly citizens are entitled to the protection of Article 21 of the Constitution of India as much as the young and able-bodied citizenry of the country. It is, thus, difficult to sustain such a reason.”  

According to LiveLaw, during an earlier hearing, Chief Justice Datta had said, “You cannot leave the old to die…we expected a better affidavit from the Centre. This needs a relook by your experts…When I think of my mother, the last six years of her life she was bedridden. If she would have lived in Covid times, what would she have done?”

The Bench further observed that there were enough facilities to make sure that the vaccines are not compromised. “…presently new generation ambulances with ICU facilities are even available. It is difficult to assume that ambulances fitted with refrigerators to maintain the recommended temperature are not available and, therefore, efficacy of the vaccine would be compromised or that AEFI following vaccination would have a detrimental effect on vaccine confidence and programme performance.”

On the issue of social distancing, the petitioner argued that physical distancing would be a problem at vaccination centres but not when it reaches elders at their respective houses. The Court said, “The respondent no.1 (Centre) has not explained as to how it would not be possible to maintain physical distancing and infection prevention control measures if a door-to-door vaccination campaign is introduced.”

The Additional Solicitor General, Anil Singh informed the court that the Centre’s decision to not initiate a door-to-door vaccination programme will be re-looked within two weeks.

The matter will be heard on May 6.

The order may be read here: 



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